One of the Boys

This weekend, I had somewhat of a sartorial adventure when I decided I wanted to try something I’d never done before: I was going to shop the men’s section. I have a serious penchant for the menswear-for-women look. I’ve already sung the praises of boyfriend jeans just last week, but I also love collared button-downs, fitted blazers, and anything with padded shoulders. There’s something about menswear worn by a women that can be incredibly sexy when styled with a feminine twist. I believe it’s the great structure and fitted tailoring of men’s clothing that makes them such an interesting addition to a woman’s wardrobe.

Fortunately for me, woman’s fashion designers and retailers have picked up on this marvelous styling bent, and have for a long time been making menswear for women. I’ve found many an excellent shirt this way. However, menswear-inspired tops created for women typically still exude a very blouse-y feel; they drape softly instead of retaining their structure in the way of true men’s shirt. This can be an excellent thing in many cases and makes for a good number of very solid outfits; however, it doesn’t give the strong silhouette of a starched men’s shirt. Occasionally one can find a good, starched collared shirt in the women’s section; but inevitably it will be tailored in a “fitted” style, which generally creates a much less interesting line in my opinion (for these kinds of shirts, at any rate). So, a dilemma then: the women’s section does not stock the kind of button-down I seek, but the men’s section does. What to do, what to do? I therefore decided to go out on a limb and just shop in the men’s section myself.

At first I was a bit nervous. Will that random man down the aisle give me a odd look for browsing in the “wrong” section? What will the fitting room attendant say when I bring a MEN’S top to try on?? Will the cashier think I’m weird because I’m purchasing a men’s button-down??? Fortunately, no one called the fashion police. In fact, not one person seemed to notice or care that I was interested in buying an item of clothing designed for a different sex than my own. In retrospect, it really didn’t matter one bit. First of all, this is 2017, and who buys what from which department shouldn’t be an issue to anyone. Second, even if it WAS an issue for somebody…well, that’d be their problem, not mine.

In the end, I ended up with a fantastic starched button-down from Uniqlo’s men’s section that I absolutely love. It checks all the boxes for the things I’d been looking for in a menswear top:

  • Nicely starched, so that it retains a structured silhouette
  • Slightly overlarge, so that it slouches in the right places (as opposed to a fitted “women’s” button-down)
  • Shoulder seams that hit the far end of my shoulders (beyond the point a normal shirt’s seam would typically fall), giving the look of broader shoulders
  • Long enough to allow for multiple styling options*

So, the bottom line I learned from my foray into the men’s section: don’t be afraid shop outside your comfort zone to find the clothes you want! Sometimes, styling clothes differently than the creator originally intended can be much more interesting.

Genuinely,

-jen

*On that note, you may be thinking: But wait! This sounds great and all, but how am I supposed to WEAR a men’s shirt? Fear not! I’m explain styling tips for button-downs (menswear or otherwise) in my next post.

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